Russia, US Put Off First Arms-Treaty Talks Since War in Ukraine

Russia, US Put Off First Arms-Treaty Talks Since War in Ukraine

The Biden administration said Monday that Russia has abruptly and without explanation postponed the scheduled resumption of arms control talks this week.

Speaking to reporters at the White House briefing, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russia had postponed a meeting of the Bilateral Consultative Commission that was scheduled to begin Tuesday in Egypt and last through next week.

Kirby said the administration has yet to receive “a real solid answer from the Russians as to why they postponed” the meeting.

“We’re going to be working through the embassy to try to figure out what happened here,” Kirby said. “And we’d like to see it get back on the schedule as soon as possible because it’s important. It’s not just important for our two nations. It’s important for the rest of the world.”

In Moscow, a Russian foreign ministry statement reported by Russian news agencies offered no reason for the postponement.

The Bilateral Consultative Commission hammers out details of U.S. and Russian inspections of each others’ military sites under the terms of the New START treaty, the last major arms control pact between Washington and Moscow.

Responding to another question on Russia and its war against Ukraine, Kirby called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack civilian infrastructure and power grids during winter time “despicable.”

“It’s absolutely despicable what he is doing in these last few weeks. Not that it hasn’t been despicable before,” Kirby said, adding that Putin’s latest targets “are largely civilian. And it’s designed for one reason, and that’s to to try to bring the Ukrainian people to their knees, because he can’t bring the Ukrainian armed forces to its knees.”

Kirby also said the Biden administration has no comment on the U.S. Soccer Federation’s decision to strip the emblem of the Islamic Republic from Iran’s flag on social media.

“This isn’t the kind of thing that you would that the White House would comment on. A U.S. soccer is a private entity and they make their own decisions about those kinds of things,” Kirby said, adding, “We wouldn’t comment on that. We wish them all the best tomorrow.”

The USSF’s flag decision was meant to support women protestors in Iran. It has since added the emblem back to Iran’s flag on U.S. Soccer’s social media channels.

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